Spain’s Banks Sell RE Assets Worth €52,000M+ In 2017

2 November 2017 – Cinco Días

According to all of the experts consulted, there is no doubt that the operation carried out by Santander in August, involving the sale of €30,000 million in property to Blackstone, marked a before and after in the formula for the financial sector to get rid of its real estate deadweight.

That operation significantly boosted the total amount transacted in these types of portfolio sale operations this year. Taking into account those operations that already have been closed, as well as those that are currently underway, the transaction volume in 2017 will comfortably exceed €52,000 million. That figure contrasts with the volume recorded in 2016 (€22,000 million), even though this year (2017) was expected to be more modest in terms of transactions.

The new international accounting standard IFRS 9, which will enter into force in January, and which will toughen provisions for real estate portfolios, as well as the pressure from the Bank of Spain and, above all, the European Central Bank (ECB) for the sector to accelerate the sale of its NPL assets, have served as a trigger for the banks to accelerate the sale of their foreclosed land and properties.

The heads of Spain’s largest banks (Santander, BBVA, CaixaBank, Bankia and Sabadell) have said, during the recent presentations of their results for the first nine months of the year, that their objective is that property will no longer weigh down on their income statements by the end of 2018 and, in some cases, by a year later, at most (…).

By way of example, Bankia has two very different financial operations underway, but international funds are the interested investors in both cases. One involves the upcoming sale of between 7% and 9% of the entity’s share capital, a placement that is expected to be carried out during the month of November and whose buyers will be institutional investors.

The other operation will involve the sale of several real estate portfolios. One of those, for €100 million, goes by the name Jets; and another, amounting to almost €2,000 million, is known as Giant, comprises property from Bankia’s own balance sheet and maybe some from BMN, the entity that it will integrate into its perimeter at the end of the year (…).

CaixaBank, with around €18,000 million in at-risk assets, of which €10,000 million are NPLs, may also star in a similar operation to the deal closed by Santander with Blackstone within the next few months, according to two experts.

For the time being, all of the consultancy firms and investment banks agree that (with the exception of the sales processes already underway) the trend is to carry out much fewer placements of small portfolios and “to undertake a few, large sales instead”.

These same sources also agree that the investment funds (Apollo, Oaktree, Bain, Cerberus, Blackstone, Lone Star, Castlelake, Värde Partners, Lindorff, TPG and Goldman Sachs, amongst the most active) “are in a hurry to buy and the banks are in a hurry to sell”.

One of the large banks that has shown reluctance to sell its real estate assets until now, despite its bulky portfolio of foreclosed assets, has been BBVA. It has carried out some operations (refer to the table above) but it has been, together with Sabadell, the only entity that has not sold its real estate platform.

Nevertheless, the bank chaired by Francisco González has been holding exclusive negotiations with Cerberus for months regarding the sale of part of Anida (in an operation known as Sena). Specifically, it is interested in 20% of Anida Grupo Inmobiliario SL, which is equivalent to around €1,200 million, an operation for which it would pay approximately €300 million.

But several sources say that the bank is rethinking its sales strategy and in 2018, will be willing to put a much larger portfolio up for sale and whereby tackle an operation similar to the one closed by Santander, but this time with Anida as the protagonist.

Sources at investment banks and managers add that the upcoming regulatory changes affecting securitisations in Europe will also help to boost the sale of packages of property portfolios amongst investors (…).

Original story: Cinco Días (by Ángeles Gonzalo Alconada)

Translation: Carmel Drake